One of my assignments was to check out the videos that are available at www.learner.org. There are many different resources available. I chose to explore the resources available for teachers, which are sorted by subject and grade area. In the high school math videos were several lessons that teachers recorded on algebra. I watched two lessons on Algebra 1, which described two activities that I could use or use variations of in my classroom.
The first lesson was an introductory lesson where students explore the relationship between the area of a pool, and the number of tiles required to surround the pool. The students started with finding numerical answers to "How many tiles are needed for (specific pool dimensions)" and progressed toward making their first formulas using variables.
The second lesson in the video helped students progress from solving single step equations to multiple step equations, and featured the use of simple cups and tokens as manipulatives. The two lessons each showed me examples of good and bad questioning, and also gave me different ideas of ways I can make the abstract concept of variables more tangible. The first lesson also illustrated a great example of the Hook, a technique described by Lemov's Teach Like a Champion.